2 June 2017, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part x62, Creative Elements in Scenes, Plot Devices, Foreshadowing
Announcement: Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy. You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com. Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
- Don’t confuse your readers.
- Entertain your readers.
- Ground your readers in the writing.
- Don’t show (or tell) everything.
- Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
I finished writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, a dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Sorcha: Enchantment and the Curse.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja. I’m also working on my 29th novel, working title School.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
- Scene input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene: transition from input to output focused on the telic flaw resolution)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
For novel 28: Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
For novel 29: Sorcha, the abandoned child of an Unseelie and a human, secretly attends Wycombe Abbey girls’ school where she meets the problem child Deirdre and is redeemed.
These are the steps I use to write a novel:
- Design the initial scene
- Develop a theme statement (initial setting, protagonist, protagonist’s helper or antagonist, action statement)
- Research as required
- Develop the initial setting
- Develop the characters
- Identify the telic flaw (internal and external)
- Write the initial scene (identify the output: implied setting, implied characters, implied action movement)
- Write the next scene(s) to the climax (rising action)
- Write the climax scene
- Write the falling action scene(s)
- Write the dénouement scene
Here is the beginning of the scene development method from the outline:
- Scene input (comes from the previous scene output or is an initial scene)
- Write the scene setting (place, time, stuff, and characters)
- Imagine the output, creative elements, plot, telic flaw resolution (climax) and develop the tension and release.
- Write the scene using the output and creative elements to build the tension.
- Write the release
- Write the kicker
Below is a list of plot devices. I’m less interested in a plot device than I am in a creative element that drives a plot device. In fact, some of these plot devices are not good for anyone’s writing. If we remember, the purpose of fiction writing is entertainment, we will perhaps begin to see how we can use these plot devices to entertain. If we focus on creative elements that drive plot devices, we can begin to see how to make our writing truly entertaining. I’ll leave up the list and we’ll contemplate creative elements to produce these plot devices.
Deus ex machina (a machination, or act of god; lit. “god out of the machine”)
Flashback (or analeptic reference)
Foreshadowing – Current discussion.
Story within a story (Hypodiegesis)
Foreshadowing: Here is a definition of foreshadowing from the link– Implicit yet intentional efforts of an author to suggest events which have yet to take place in the process of narration. See also repetitive designation and Chekhov’s gun.
This is a terrible definition. I’ll give you a better one. A foreshadowing is a creative element (a setting character, item, event, situation, or action that interacts with the protagonist or other character) presented earlier in a scene for the purpose of providing a release later in the scene or a later scene.
Foreshadowing is the most useful and used plot device in all literature. In my opinion, it isn’t used nearly enough especially by inexperienced authors. Foreshadowing is what allows appropriate and powerful release in scenes, including the climax of the novel. For example, if my protagonist needs to be able to pick a lock to solve a problem (release or tension in a scene, climax of the novel) all I need to do is have the character learn to pick a lock or gain the skill of lock picking or have been taught the skill of lock picking in an earlier scene. The earlier the better for complex skills. In the first Flavia de Luca novel, Flavia informs us that she learned to pick locks because her sisters locked her up all the time. We further have this reinforced when she tells us she learned how to pick locks from her father’s gentleman’s gentleman. Thus, when Flavia picks a lock, it isn’t a surprise or a deus ex machina at all. It is appropriate and reasonable that a girl who has learned to pick locks can pick locks. This is the use of foreshadowing. If you notice, this is a plot device you should use all the time. Here is an example from my writing:
That afternoon, Sorcha, Deirdre, Luna, and Mrs. Calloway went out to buy new dresses, hats, and all the necessary accouterments. When Sorcha took a look at the price tags, she blanched. Mrs. Calloway joyfully poked her, “We are going to visit the Queen. You can’t look like a ragamuffin.”
Sorcha glanced down, “I already owe Deirdre for the formal gown, my uniform, and a host of other things.”
Mrs. Calloway took the dress from the rack and handed it to her, “I feel pleased to dress my daughter’s best friend.” She whispered, “Even if she contemplated killing her more than once.”
Sorcha shook her head, “I never would have…”
“I’ve contemplated killing her a few times myself, but I wouldn’t either.”
Sorcha sucked in a breath, “Oh, I see.”
“Try that one on, and that one, and that one. We’ll find something and some hats before tomorrow. I know we will.”
They did buy some beautiful new dresses and hats with all the fixings. They packed them up and returned to Rosewood House too late for tea, but just in time for supper. The house was in an uproar. Deirdre and Sorcha were the first two though the door.
Lachlann spotted them first. To Sorcha, he looked younger than Deirdre. His hair and complexion was similar to hers, and he was already half a head taller, but he looked less mature. He gave a holy cry up the stairs, “Alert on the top deck, Dreadful is back and she’s all dressed up.”
They heard anonymous moans and groans from the top floor. It sounded like at least three other voices to Sorcha, girls and boys.
Lachlann sauntered over to where Deirdre and Sorcha stood. Deirdre held her head up and her back straight, “Lachlann, this is my very good friend Ms. Sorcha Weir. Sorcha, this is my younger brother Lachlann. He also likes to be called Mata…by his friends.”
He nodded to Sorcha, “very nice to meet you Ms. Weir.” He turned directly back to Deirdre, “Does Mother know you’re here?”
Mrs. Calloway came in the front door foyer followed closely by Luna. Herbert was taking care of the packages.
Mrs. Calloway pulled off her gloves, “Do I know what, Lachlann?”
Lachlann murmured, “I just wondered if you knew that she’s back. I already alerted the rest of the crew.”
Mrs. Calloway’s lips twitched, “Lachlann, be a good lad and make sure your brothers and sister are ready to properly greet their sister and Ms. Weir.”
Lachlann took the hint. With a slight look of alarm, he ran up the stairs.
Mrs. Calloway put down her gloves and her coat, “I forgot to ask him if James was home yet.”
Deirdre pulled Sorcha to the side. She spoke French, “I didn’t think we would be staying here. I need to warn you about my brothers and sister. They put upon me since I was small, but I always gave as well as I received. I hope I don’t need to fight them while you are here, but I shall if it’s required.”
Sorcha asked also in French, “Why are we speaking French, and why would you need to fight them?”
“We are speaking French because we still don’t think Mother can understand it. I might need to fight them on principle.”
Sorcha shook her head, “I can barely believe that.”
Deirdre looked grim. She led Sorcha into the family parlor, “This is where my Mother likes to make proper introductions. We’ll wait here.”
There are multiple foreshadowing presentations and releases as well as tension building in this partial scene. The main foreshadowing has happened in the previous scene. Sorcha was led to believe Mrs. Calloway was a nasty person. She is very lovely—this is a different type of plot device, but based in foreshadowing. They are going on a visit to the Queen. This is a foreshadowing and they are preparing for the visit. Sorcha has been led to believe Deidre’s sister and brothers are nice and that Deirdre tormented them—we are learning the opposite. At the beginning of the scene, Sorcha has contemplated killing Deirdre—note Mrs. Calloway’s reaction. This is also a foreshadowing of a type. This is also a pure release from a foreshadowing tension. There are further foreshadowing events based on French, speaking, and fighting. There is more and much much more—this is why I write that foreshadowing is the main plot device tool for the author. The wise author uses it all the time. It can be used with almost any creative element and powerfully completes the tension and release cycles in scenes.
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